Mission Statement

Youth Theatre Interactions, Inc. (YTI) provides professional instruction in the performing arts to Westchester County youth. With the support and participation of their parents, YTI nurtures creativity and pride in accomplishment while fostering discipline, confidence, and critical thinking in young people. Empowered by these attributes, our youth will become positive contributors to society. Furthermore, they will possess the skills necessary to proceed into the professional arts community.


In 1971, the Yonkers Community Action Program was asked to develop an after-school program that would help keep kids away from drugs and crime. James P. Hill, an employee of YCAP and professional musician, developed the School 12 Program, which began as a music workshop. Shortly after, Mr. Hill met Paul Kwame Johnson, then a theater major at Sarah Lawrence College. Mr. Johnson added his expertise to establish a new drama workshop to the program.


In 1973, Hill and Johnson along with co-founder Turhan Von Brandon sought non-profit status for their program and renamed it Youth Theatre Interactions, Inc. (YTI), a performing arts school providing instruction free of charge to the youth of Yonkers.


As interest and funding grew, the program was expanded to include dance workshops, photography, training in lighting design, sound and stage management.


Today YTI provides instruction in drama, digital production, voice, music, and six different forms of dance. These services are provided at a modest fee to youth from all over Westchester County.


Youth Theatre Interactions, Inc. is generously supported by the following organizations


  • Develop the artistic abilities of our students by encouraging full use of their creative potential

  • Instill an understanding and appreciation of the power of the arts

  • Promote the arts as a tool to develop students’ interpersonal and critical thinking skills

  • Promote the arts as a tool to promote physical and mental wellness

  • Encourage parents to participate in his or her child’s personal growth and artistic development

  • Maximize the connection between YTI students and the real world of the performing and arts by:

    1. Employing professional artists as instructors
    2. Providing workshops that prepare students for professional auditions
    3. Exposing students to stage management and production techniques as part of their performance experience
    4. Provide performance opportunities in a variety of diverse venues

Staff & Board

  • Founders
  • Board
  • Executive Director

James P. Hill

Paul Kwame Johnson

Turhan Von Brandon


Genia Flammia – President

Pedro Reyes – Vice President

Brenda Gray – Treasurer
Steve Sansone – City Liaison
Stefanie Blue

Joyce Harrigan, PH.D.

Deborah Hudson-Jenkins

Kwame Ndzibah

Mary-Michael Simons
India-Rae Tuthill

Suzanne Newman – Ex-Officio

Advisory Board

Patricia Adams, Symra Brandon, Turhan Von Brandon, Lisa Copeland, Chelaea Freeman, Dr. Mary E. Lane, Miriam Lovett, Judith Z. Matson, Tom O’Keefe, Rev. DeForest Raphael, Paula Redd-Zeman, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Ricardo Lima

Photo Courtesy of Rex Lott Photography

As Executive Director, Ricardo Lima is responsible for developing and implementing the strategic and artistic goals for YTI. He is further charged with being the face of YTI, representing the organization to funders, parents, and partners.  

Ricardo is an alumnus of YTI (1998). Starting as a drama student in early 1991, Ricardo showed promise and was quickly advanced into Intimate Realities. Later, he took classes in Steel Band, Hip Hop and African. While still in high school, Ricardo attended 2 summer intensives at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Ricardo graduated from SUNY at Purchase College in 2007 with a degree in Liberal Studies and a concentration in The Arts. In 2012, he received his MA in Educational Theatre from NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development where he focused on curriculum development and theater in colleges and communities.

Ricardo first returned to YTI as a teacher, filling in as a drama instructor, then as a board member, and now finally as Executive Director. Ricardo credits YTI as being a safe space for him to explore his passion for the performing arts, his creativity and his self-discipline. Ricardo views YTI as a second home and continues to ensure YTI’s legacy will endure.